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Investing in Food Security

Applying a market-based approach to increasing food security, rice farmers and millers are working together in Nigeria to improve rice production and reduce dependence on imports.
Though oil revenues dominate the Nigerian economy, agriculture is the primary industry for roughly 70 percent of Nigeria’s 170 million people. Unfortunately, the rural economy that supports so many livelihoods is constrained by poverty and poor market infrastructure. The Nigerian Ministry of Agriculture, Chemonics, and USAID are working together to reverse those trends.
 
The Maximizing Agricultural Revenue and Key Enterprises in Targeted Sites project — known as MARKETS — is building a strong rural economy through an integrated, demand-driven approach. Beginning by connecting buyers with producers, the MARKETS team then works with farmer groups to improve production and post-harvest handling to meet specific demand.
 
 
The results have been impressive. Improved production techniques have allowed farmers to nearly quadruple yields and rice processors to increase their product to meet local demand.
 
“For the first time, we’ve been able to grow rice and process it into a product that can compete with imports on both price and quality,” noted MARKETS Chief of Party Tim Prewitt. “This is the first time that’s ever happened in Nigeria.”
 
Creating profitable linkages between producers and processors is strengthening the entire Nigerian rice value chain, providing tangible evidence that there is market demand for locally produced rice. And MARKETS is applying the rice model to numerous other products, from cassava to fish. In total, the project has increased the net incomes of Nigerian producer groups by $216 million. MARKETS also helped farmers increase productivity by 240 percent in sesame, 304 percent in maize, and 128 percent in sorghum.
 
More efficient production practices and a more secure end market have convinced banks that rice farming is a worthwhile investment, and now MARKETS farmers are able to use loans to invest in their businesses, purchase equipment, and further increase their harvests. MARKETS has facilitated more than 412,000 loans and leveraged more than $101.7 million for clients, including wholesale loans to microfinance institutions, seed companies, and farmer groups.
 
The most telling impact, though, is for smallholder Nigerian rice farmers like Goodness Onuh, who has increased her yield by 5.3 metric tons per hectare in just two years. “I thank MARKETS for assisting me to become a good rice farmer. I am encouraging other women in my village to embrace the MARKETS approach,” she says. Overall, the program has helped farmers increase productivity by 285 percent in the rice sector.

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